(Transcript)

Hi, I’m Cindy Speaker and we are honored today to have attorney David Daggett with us. David is an avid cyclist, but he is also an amazing IRONMAN triathlete. So David, thanks for being with us today.

David Daggett: Thank you, Cindy, thanks for having me.

Cindy Speaker: Absolutely. Well, we’re going to talk about the new bicycle laws. They changed in North Carolina December 1st, I believe?

David Daggett: Some of them changed October 1st, and some changed December 1st, but they’re all new for 2017.

Cindy Speaker: Okay. Now, you wrote a blog post recently, and you talked about them imposing both rights and responsibilities on the rider. What are some of those rights?

David Daggett: Well, the rights that the riders have, have changed. North Carolina, for years, it had what’s called the “two foot rule,” which means when a motor vehicle’s on the road and it passes a cyclist, they had to give two feet of passing room. More than half of the states in United States have a three foot rule. Cindy, you’re from Pennsylvania.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett: Pennsylvania has a four foot rule. We had a two foot rule. What the biggest change in law, I think, is that in a no-passing zone, which are most of our urban roadways and narrow country roadways, there is now a four foot law in North Carolina. So, cars have to give you four feet. Not two feet, four feet.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: So when passing, which is a major, major safety improvement for cyclists in North Carolina.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett: So they have to give four feet, or be fully in the other lane. They have to give way if you’re turning left. It puts those responsibilities on motorists, gives more rights to cyclists. The one thing I’m always cautious of when I’m talking to cyclists is remember, motorists don’t know these new laws.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett: Just because we know them, we can’t get indignant with motorists. We just have to help educate, be good ambassadors for the ongoing safety of cyclists.

Cindy Speaker: Yes.

David Daggett: I think that’s the biggest new right that cyclists have, is the four foot rule.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: Remember, on average, in North Carolina, we have, I think it’s in the neighborhood of 30 cyclists killed every year on the roads, and more than 700 injured.

Cindy Speaker: Wow!

David Daggett: The vast majority of the injuries happen in the urban areas, where the four foot rule’s now mostly in effect, and most of the deaths occur more in the rural areas.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: And that’s because you’re on higher speed roads, roads that don’t have improvements, such as bicycle lanes and other traffic awareness devices.

Does that make sense?

Cindy Speaker: It does make sense. Yeah. So that’s a great change.

David Daggett: There’s that.

Another, which I will call “right” for cyclists, is historically, you had to give hand signals with your left hand. So, you turn left it’s this, you turn right it’s this, and to stop it’s putting your arm down. I don’t know if you can see that, but it’s putting your arm down. Where those rules originated is back in the days when cars didn’t have turn signals, and obviously you had to do this because you couldn’t stick your arm out the right window, okay?

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: So, sort of old laws. The new law that went into effect now codifies that bicyclists can use either arm to give directions. It’s fairly intuitive anyway, but you can now do it. The one thing that I do remind people is cyclists need to be aware of what’s around them and what’s going on. Remember, depending where the car is, they can’t see your right arm. So depending on what type of traffic you’re in and that sort of thing, you still may want to do this, but you can also do this. Keep hands on the handlebars, of course, but I’ve been known to do this, put a hand back down, and do this.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: To try to eliminate confusion with the motorists and try to help motorists who are on the road.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett: I think those are very important significant rights. The other thing that has happened is in North Carolina, we have laws that protected motorcycle riders. If you force a motorcycle rider to take an avoidance measure, either out of their lane, or off the road, it’s a $250 minimum fine. Well, that $250 minimum fine now applies for forcing a bicyclist out of your lane or off the road. If it causes any damage, it’s a $500 fine. If it causes more than $5,000 worth of damage, which as most cyclists know, bicycles now cost in that range.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah.

David Daggett: Or, there’s what’s under the law as “serious personal injury,” which usually means you need medical attention. It’s a $750 fine. So laws that were put into effect a number of years ago to protect motorcyclists, give them extra protection, those now apply to bicyclists also.

Cindy Speaker: Okay, excellent.

David Daggett: I think those are very, very good laws.

Cindy Speaker: Right. And I think what you said, the important thing is, for us, and that’s what we’re trying to do today, is really educate motorists as well as the bicyclists.

David Daggett: Absolutely, and as bicyclists know, 99% of all motorists want to help us.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett: And so, we need to help them to help us help educate them, be polite, be good ambassadors on the road. I think that leads to some of the changes that are responsibilities for bicyclists. Historically, what we had in North Carolina is when riding at night, you had to have a front reflector and rear reflector. The rear reflector had to be visible from 250 feet back, but that has now changed, I think it’s a good change, that you now must have a light, not a reflector, a light visible from 300 feet, or you can have reflective clothing or reflective vest that’s visible from 300 feet.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: When riding in the dark, I actually recommend both. It’s interesting, Cindy, the last couple of years, light technology has increased, with LED technology, and I have relatively inexpensive LED lights. They recharge in a USB port. They’re very easy to put on the bike and take off. I actually use those for daytime riding also, because anything we can do to protect ourselves and be more safe, the better. And here’s the really interesting thing that I have found out with lights on the bike, is when we protect ourselves and look out for ourselves, wear a helmet, have good lights, that sort of thing, motorists are much more friendly to us.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: And in fact, I was cycling with a friend who was a professional cyclist, actually one of the top cyclists in the United States. We were riding together out in the country, and he was talking to me about my lights that I had on. It was a bright sunny day, and he said, “What good do those do on a bright, sunny day?” Well just then, we had one of those great, big four wheel drive, loud pickup trucks come roaring up next to us, rolls down his passenger window, which typically when you’re out in the country and that happens, you go, “Oh no, what’s coming.”

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett: And he says, “Hey, thanks for having that light. You wouldn’t believe how far away I could see you.”

Cindy Speaker: Oh, how about that.

David Daggett: So it was helpful to him.

Cindy Speaker: Yes.

David Daggett: If we’re helpful to motorists, they’re gonna be more helpful to us.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett: And so, I’m a big believer in being a good ambassador, being safe, using lights, and trying to spread the word. It keeps us all safer.

Cindy Speaker: Absolutely.

You know, when you talk about this, this is quite an investment for the cyclist, all this equipment, and all that you have to do.

David Daggett: Yeah, it is but on a relative scale, it’s not that much.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: Good lights, I’m trying to think how … My rear light, I think, is visible from a mile away.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: I think it was $50 or $60.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: And so, you know, is it an investment? Of course, it is, but the trade off with the safety that it imparts, I don’t think it’s real expensive. The other interesting thing is, bicycle accidents tend to occur either when a car is passing and turns short on you, because they don’t realize how fast you’re going. When I’m riding a bike, I could be going 25, 30 miles an hour. The cars think you’re going 10 miles an hour, and they don’t do it intentionally, but they cut you short. A light on the back helps in that situation. The other situation that you have is cars coming the other direction and making a turn in front of you.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah.

David Daggett: So I also use a front light strobe light. Very easy. It straps right on the handlebars, no fuss, no muss. Charges in the USB port, and again, it increases your visibility. Anything cyclists can do to increase their visibility I think is very, very valuable.

Cindy Speaker: Let me ask you this, David. You’re local to North Carolina, Winston-Salem area, are there local shops that you can recommend where bicyclists can go and the shop owners are aware of all this?

David Daggett: You’re gonna bait me here.

Cindy Speaker: Is that a difficult question? I don’t wanna put you in a bad situation.

David Daggett: No, I am friends with, longtime friends, and I’m talking 30 plus years, with all the shop owners in town.

Cindy Speaker: Well, that’s great.

David Daggett: Let me tick them off quickly. Clemmons Bicycle. Josh, Travis, and Ed, they’re terrific. I ride a Cervelo bicycle, they’re the Cervelo dealer, so obviously deal with them, help sponsor their race team.

Ken’s Bicycle. Ken has been a friend of mine for 35 years. I call Ken the “Oracle of Bicycling.”

Mock Orange Bikes.

Charles and Charlie, very, very helpful.

Cycletherapy. Mike is just terrific. He’s a servant on helping make trails nice.

Paul’s Cycling Fitness. By the way, Paul, Sr., I believe just had his 85th birthday?

Cindy Speaker: Oh, wow!

David Daggett: So happy birthday, Paul, Sr.

Cindy Speaker: Yes!

David Daggett: Paul, Jr. and his brothers now run the store. Paul, Dennis, I’m gonna get in trouble cos there’s five brothers.

All the stores in the Winston-Salem area do a terrific job. I also ought to give a shout out to Dale Brown at Cycles de Oro in Greensboro. Back in the early 80s when I had absolutely zero money and I was trying to crack through as a pro triathlete, Dale was one who came and helped me with some bike parts and that sort of thing.

Cindy Speaker: Fantastic.

David Daggett:  The nice thing about the bicycle community is there’s not animosity between the shops. We’re all helpful to each other and it’s the old adage that “higher water makes all ships float better.” And so, spreading the positive word in the bicycle community. I just listed all of the players in the area. Probably one’s gonna yell at me cos I got a name wrong or something, but they’ve all been longtime friends and they do a great job in our community.

Cindy Speaker:  That’s great.

Well let me ask you one more thing, because the other day you introduced me to the World Bicycle Relief. I looked at their website, and I was like, “This is a great organization.”

David Daggett: Yeah. World Bicycle Relief, I just love. The purpose of World Bicycle Relief is to provide bicycles to people in parts of the world where a bicycle will change their lives. There’s some very interesting stories. A lot of this is coming out of third world countries, Africa, that sort of thing, where we don’t realize or see it day to day, but a bicycle used for transportation can change lives forever. It can give people access to livelihood and more importantly, it can give access to education. There’s a terrific poem written by a young lady from Zambia and it’s “Education for All.” You’ll make me tear up here, but her poem talks about how education is power, and by getting education, you can change the world, and education’s a great equalizer among people, and she couldn’t have gotten an education if she didn’t have the bicycle to transport herself to a school that was far away from the good old village where she lived.

I love my t-shirt, “Bicycles & Freedom & Power & Joy.” This is a World Bike Relief t-shirt which I love.

Cindy Speaker: That’s awesome.

David Daggett: They also sent me the coolest little thing. It’s a little figurine, handmade in Zambia by a local folk artist. What it is is a bicycle and on the back of it is a cage with chickens in it.

Cindy Speaker: Oh, wow.

David Daggett: So this is how that man is using a bicycle for his livelihood. And although it may seem simple to us, it changes lives.

Cindy Speaker: It’s huge.

David Daggett: I used to like mathematics, so I like the transitive property. Take that transitive property back to us in our community also. Bicycling is a great way, particularly for aging athletes like me, to stay healthy. Being safe, being good ambassadors, all part of that. I was going to mention earlier, in 1974, North Carolina was one of the leaders in the United States in having a bicycle safety act. It doesn’t have a whole lot of teeth in it, it’s more aspirational than giving you doctrine on bike safety, but it’s things such as for parks. When public parks are built, there should always be consideration for bike racks.

Cindy Speaker: That’s great.

David Daggett: They don’t make it mandatory, but it has suggestions. We just had, here in town, cyclists would be familiar, Polo Road, a portion of it just got repaved and there’s not bike lanes in it.

Cindy Speaker: Oh, wow.

David Daggett: We’re still trying to make progress. The unfortunate part is when the street sweeper comes by, it sweeps everything off the road into the bike lane. So we’ve still got to make some progress, but there is forward progress. These new statutes came out of a work group that the North Carolina legislature assigned, and that work group has commercial people, rural people, bicycle shop owner, representative of the state highway patrol, so law enforcement, farmers, business people, and bicyclists coming together to try to improve the safety and the conditions for bicyclists and motorists. So it’s all positive.

 

CEO of Speaker Media and Marketing, is the "Secret Weapon of Personal Injury Lawyers and Trial Attorneys" throughout the United States. Specializing as a marketing consultant to lawyers, with a primary focus on content marketing, social media, online video and mobile marketing strategies.